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Journal Entry 6
5th March
Mount Cook, New Zealand

[This follows on from Bruno's Journal #14.]

During the scenic drive down the west coast towards the Fox Glacier we had our first glimpse of Mt Cook - New Zealand's tallest mountain - rising to a sharp peak above the snowcapped mountain range before us. It somehow seemed odd to me that in a short while we would be hiking up a glacier at Cook's foot.

We opted to do the half-day guided walk on Fox Glacier that proved to be more challenging than expected. After a steep climb through mountain bush along the edge of a steep precipis (presipece? preci??s) drop, we reached the ice and it was time to don our crampons and grab a pointed stick (useful for prodding slow members of the group and poking down crevices as much as assisting the climb). We saw some pretty funky ice features but the coolest, in both senses, was a cave made entirely of bright blue ice (the blueness comes from the density of the ice). Bruno didn't waste the opportunity to pose at the entrance with the guide's giant ice pick. Something about looking the part, he said.

I had a moment of excitement back at the B&B where our hostess told me that Legolas, as in the elf, as in Orlando Bloom, had not only slept here but had laid his fair head on my very pillow! Sadly my excitement was short-lived because on further examination of the guestbook (on which was based the poor lady's claim) it turned out to be no more than a quote of Legolas signed by a German, probably a sweaty one at that, with a moustache.

A very early start for us the next morning (around 6am) saw us walking (and Dad running) around Lake Matheson at sunrise. Our efforts were rewarded with a classic view of the mountain range, including Mt Cook, reflected in the still waters of the lake.

On the Scale of Beautiful Places, Lake Matheson was up there with the best. You would think that after what we had already seen that morning we weren't going to top it for a while. Well, you'd be mistaken. Lucky for us - less so for Dad's credit card - we took off on a fanstasmagical helicopter ride around the top of Mt Cook itself, which paused on the ice for us to get out and take photos. Some of the most expensive and most memorable minutes you could wish to spend on earth.

The afternoon's scenic drive to Lake Wanaka was complete with braids of glacial grey rivers, driftwood strewn beaches and crashing waterfalls. If only my geography fieldtrips could have been here!


To be continued in my Journal #7.